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Autophagy And Intermittent Fasting : What, When, How and More(2022)

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Unlike other popular diets , intermittent fasting provide actual major positive health effects .

You may have heard that intermittent fasting leads to autophagy. Before understanding the relationship between intermittent fasting and autophagy , let’s grab some concepts on autophagy -what , when , how and benefits .

What is autophagy?

The term “autophagy ” is made up of “auto” and “phagy ” which means “self” and “eat” respectively. So, in simple terms autophagy refers to self – eating.

When the cells of our body are in state of nutrient deficiency ,then these cells do a strange thing . They eat some part of their own body in order to provide the necessary nutrition . This process is called autophagy.

Autophagy is a naturally occurring process . This process is important for maintaining homeostasis. It helps to maintain the balance between the making and breaking of the cell materials .

Sometimes autophagy may lead to apoptosis . Apoptosis is an important natural process which leads to programmed silent suicide of cell.

When autophagy occurs?

The process of autophagy is occurring every day . It occurs more during the fasting state and less during the well-fed state.

Autophagy is important in digesting damaged proteins of the cell ,viruses and bacteria . Sometimes when viruses and other pathogens enter into cells , they are digested by help of autophagy.

How long should you fast for autophagy ?

The start of autophagy depends on your metabolism. Autophagy occurs when the level of insulin and glycogen are extremely low. This can be achieved only after about 14 to 16 hours of fasting.

A 2010 research has shown that short term fasting for 24 hours causes profound increase in autophagy in neurons of brain. In mice ,it is observed that autophagy starts in about 16 to 24 hours and maximize in around 36 hours of fasting.

Studies have suggested that autophagy occurs more during the night time . So you should fast throughout night time for better results.

If you are planning for autophagy ,then 5:2 approach is better for you. But 16:8 approach will also lead to substantial amount of autophagy. You can choose the one that suits you. You should consult your doctor before taking long fast.

How to increase autophagy?

Autophagy occurs when stress on cell increases . You can increase the stress on your cells by

  • intermittent fasting for prolonged period of times from 16 hours to 48 hours
  • doing exercise – 30 minutes high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance exercise training (RET) are found to be most effective
  • keto diet( high fat low carb diet)
  • protein cycling – reduce protein intake to only 15 – 20 gram in two days of a week . This will cause protein scarcity in cell. The cells will do autophagy to supply the necessary proteins.

Other factors that will help to increase autophagy are :

  • proper sleep – Autophagy occurs mainly during sleep. You can use blue light filtering lenses and liposomal melatonin for better sleep.
  • Sauna – research has shown that exposing the body to high heat will accelerate the process of autophagy
  • infrared sauna
  • green tea
  • wine
  • ginger
  • dark chocolate
  • peanut
  • pomegranate
  • garlic
  • turmeric

Benefits of autophagy

Autophagy is important for all cell. It is a source of nutrition during stress.

Autophagy is essential for cells to clean damaged and useless materials within the cell. It helps in elimination of waste.

There are evidences which show that autophagy helps to combat neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson and Huntington.

Autophagy reduces inflammation that helps in osteoarthritis , asthma and other inflammatory disease.

Autophagy is essential for DNA repair. If DNA aren’t repaired properly, it increases the chance of cancer. Studies suggest that autophagy helps in DNA repair that reduces the chances of cancer.

Research has shown that autophagy is associated with longevity . Studies have suggested that autophagy is one of the pro-survival processes inside the body that can increase life span.

How autophagy occurs ?

Autophagy is a part of catabolism.

Metabolism is divided into two parts – catabolism and anabolism . The metabolic processes that lead to production of new materials is called anabolism and the metabolic processes that are involved in the digestion of this old useless materials is called catabolism . These two process go hand in hand in a healthy cell.

During autophagy , a semi-circular membrane like structure is formed from mitochondria and smooth endoplasmic reticulum. This membrane forms a sac that consists of waste materials of cytoplasm. It fuses with lysosome. Then lysosome releases digestive enzymes which breaks these materials into nutrients.

Sign and Symptoms Of Autophagy

The major sign and symptoms of autophagy are

  • reduced appetite
  • ketosis
  • bad breath- occurs due to ketosis
  • improved brain function
  • fatigue
  • weight loss


Can Autophagy ( Fasting) help to reduce wrinkles ?

Autophagy increase the amount of collagen and elastin by digesting the waste materials . This increased amount of collagen and elastin are helpful for removing wrinkles.

How do I know if autophagy is working ?

You should search for the signs and symptoms of autophagy to know if autophagy is working in your body . The common signs and symptoms are:

  • ketosis
  • reduced appetite
  • weight loss
  • bad breath
  • better brain health
  • fatigue

How many hour do autophagy take ?

Studies suggest that it requires about 14 to 16 hours of fasting for autophagy to take place.

Do coconut oil stop autophagy ?

No . Coconut oil are rich in healthy medium-chain fatty acids. It will reduce your hunger and stimulates autophagy by increasing ketone levels when you are in low carb diet.

Do coffee promote autophagy ?

Studies have shown that coffee promotes autophagy . But it is better to drink sugar free coffee because sugar will increase glucose and insulin which will hinder autophagy.

If you have any confusion left in autophagy and intermittent fasting, then please comment below.

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4 thoughts on “Autophagy And Intermittent Fasting : What, When, How and More(2022)”

    1. Thank you sir.
      It feels great that the article helped you 😊
      I am new to writing with fear of failures.
      This feedback will be great motivation for me to continue writing.

  1. You shouldn’t worry about your writing — not at all. You’ve laid out the facts we need in a very clear manner, best I’ve seen.

    Thank you!

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